Today, the first of August, we are – I hope – becalmed. Westminster and the political programmes on radio and television have temporarily disappeared. Even the Church seems quiet.
It seems a good moment to take stock of this blog, which I began in April 2011. So far, it has had modest success and I think has vindicated my belief that there is a need for a place in cyberspace where the laity can discuss the state of the Church, inform ourselves on related topics, and engage in theological discussion without needing a degree in theology.
Broadening the Authorship of the Blog
So far, so good. But it was always my intention and hope that the blog (and indeed the website as a whole) would truly become a group enterprise. This is why I describe myself as ‘editor of Lay Anglicana’, obviously a curious description of a one-[wo]man enterprise. Rather it was an aspiration, as in ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz‘. Similarly, when I describe the blog as ‘the place to share news and views from the pews‘, this was aspirational rather than descriptive of its present scope.
From the beginning, I have invited the occasional guest blog post. Kathryn Rose gave us ‘The Organist’s View‘ on 21 June 2011 and there have been a trickle of other guest posts since. This month, however, we have had The Revd Andrew Cain on Anglo-Catholicism; Chris Fewings on the Church’s attitude to sex and gender; and the Revd Jody Stowell on Evangelicals, Bible and Gender. These posts have proved extremely popular amongst readers: visits to the site in July rose to 3,170 from the normal 2,000-2,500 or so. I take this to be a strong hint from someone, somewhere that I should now make every effort to broaden the authorship of the blog posts on a permanent basis.
Between now and the end of the year, we will acquire a new Archbishop of Canterbury and, with a fair wind, an episcopate which includes both sexes (or at least an agreement to do so). Although the Anglican Covenant gives occasional twitches to signal that it is not dead yet, there is every reason to hope that it will not give immediate trouble.
Let us hope we return to more untroubled waters. Dame Catherine Wybourne, the Digital Nun, wrote a post on 30 July called: ‘Is it ever right to hate?’
I spent a little time yesterday catching up with some of my favourite (and not-so-favourite) blogs. Many were Christian, not a few were Catholic. One or two surprised me, perhaps troubled me might be a better word, with their vehemence about people or things they objected to. I don’t doubt the conviction or sincerity of the writers, but even when I agreed with their opinions, I sometimes felt very uncomfortable about the way in which they were expressing themselves. It is a challenge for every blogger. No one wants to read dull or bland prose, but being passionate about something isn’t necessarily the measure of truth or persuasiveness. Do we need to be more careful how we express ourselves, or is it all right to hate?
I doubt whether she intended to single out Lay Anglicana, but her point went home. I have thought it necessary, in order to be effective, at times to be considerably sharper, and more aggressive, than I would be in normal life. I have felt uncomfortable about this, to the point of seeking pastoral advice. The response was that I should continue as I was doing, while bearing in mind the possible dangers. My adviser and I both felt that a certain extravagance of speech was probably helpful in bringing about constructive change.
I commented on the Digital Nun’s post as follows:
Certainly, on what one might call the politics of our Church, I and several like me are, I think I would use the word ‘aghast’, at some recent developments. It is as if we are all in a boat attempting to steer a course between Scylla and Charybdis. Those in the galley have one view on the best course to steer, but the captain thinks differently. Do those in the galley hate the captain? No. Are those in the galley passionate and vehement in their attempts to persuade the captain to change course? Yes. Would a dispassionate observer be struck unpleasantly by the shrill cacophony and and sheer bad manners of those in the galley? Yes, and rightly so. What is to be done? At this juncture, all we can hope for is a return to calmer waters thanks to the forces of nature, or the emergence of a new captain who can encourage us all to row in the same direction.
I would love to hope, with Puck : “If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended. ”
Intercessions: My priority for August is the completion of the collective piece we have been putting together. The notes amount to 50 pages of A4, which now need cutting and pasting so that all the material is collated under the different headings. I had hoped to finish this earlier, but it has been a very eventful six months and I have at times felt I was fire-fighting.
More Authors: I am hoping to identify some people who might be willing to contribute articles on a continuing basis – if you have an idea for a piece, do contact me.
The illustration is an Italian fresco of about 1560 illustrating Scylla and Charybdis, downloaded from Wikimedia under CCL